When we want to grow spiritually there are a number of enemies that will look to stand in our way. Remember, God designed us uniquely, He wants us to grow and He wants us to be free from the sin and brokenness that often brings out the worst in us. By becoming more aware both of the enemies and the tactics of the enemies, as well as the Truth about them we will be less likely to fall for their attacks. Here are 4 common enemies:
1 John 2:16-17
For all that is in the world—the desires of the flesh and the desires of the eyes and pride of life—is not from the Father but is from the world. And the world is passing away along with its desires, but whoever does the will of God abides forever.
Society or the world as it’s put here is the man-centered way of life which ignores God and operates by its own standards. The reality is society is all around us, like water for a fish – but the big issue is not the presence of the world but how we live in it
Tactics: False values enculturated – all about desires being met with no consequence or regard for others –it’s things like immediate gratification, sensualism, materialism
Truth: The truth is necessary to defeat the lies and when it comes to the world, it’s passing away and has no real substance – it’s like the Monopoly money in the real world – there’s no real value to it.
Believe it or not, what is inside of us can be an enemy to our transformation and forward movement — It comes down to an issue of identity – many of us try to find ourselves and our identity in any place except for God – so we look to our job or relationships or what we have or our talents etc.
Tactics: Shame and Fear
So here’s how this works – God is at work in your life, He’s wanting to transform you and grow you but all of sudden your shame throws up a road block — “I can’t grow after what I’ve done” or “I’ll always be broken or you can challenge me on any issue, but not that one, I can’t help that — after what I’ve been through, you can’t expect me to be any different.”
Or maybe it’s fear – we don’t know what the other side of transformation might look like so we fear it and we stay where we’re comfortable, sure it’s not all it could be, but it’s what we know.
Here’s the problem- that is not who you are, shame and fear are not what God gives us, and the thing that frustrates me about myself and others is I feel like these tactics have been working on so many of us for years! And some of us have so much shame and so many fears that we have been rendered completely useless to the kingdom because of it. So listen, Jesus came to die for sin, your sin, your shame, your fear and the Bible says God didn’t give us a spirit of fear but one of power — when we let shame or fear win – we are operating outside of what Jesus died to give us.
Truth: In Christ we are accepted and courageous
1 Peter 2:11
Beloved, I urge you as sojourners and exiles to abstain from the passions of the flesh, which wage war against your soul.
He says, there are passions in us that are “waging war against your soul” — this is a little different than self, because these are the actions we do often in response to some perceived deficiency in us or what we do to get what we think we need — it’s missing the mark, it’s operating outside of God’s design – if you’re a Christian, it’s going against your own identity.
Tactic: Temptation to short cut or not trust God
“I know God says, I know God wants, I know God tells me I am made for…”
But instead we say, “but if I have sex before I’m married, then I get to shortcut what God wants and let sin win” or “I know God says He will do… but what if He doesn’t and what if He’s taking too long — you see in normal circumstances this would be wrong, but in my situation, I don’t have a choice!”
If you want to win over sin, know the truth…
Truth: Sin=death (of relationships, or meaning, of fulfillment);
God’s way=Life (even if it feels like it’s taking too long or not what you thought)
1 Peter 5:8
Be sober-minded; be watchful. Your adversary the devil prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour.
This is the enemy we probably think about most when it comes to what might hold us back. I think Satan, the evil one leverages all 3 of those other enemies against us.
Make no mistake folks – the devil is a roaring lion looking for someone to devour and unfortunately there is a ton of us who are making it real easy because we fall for society, we let our broken selves lead and we sin hoping to find what we want and all of those things make us ineffective for the mission of God and keep us on the sidelines when it comes to God’s transforming work.
Satan knows what we could be, what church could be, what any of us could be if we let God get a hold of us and stepped into His light.
Tactics: Distort, Distract, Defeat
He can’t create anything, he can only distort what God has created. If he can’t get us in sin, he’ll make us busy and distracted building our own kingdoms instead of pursuing God’s plan. And ultimately he wants to heap on the shame and the guilt so that all of us will be depressed, broken and unwilling to step forward in faith! Defeated.
Truth: Jesus is bigger!
1 John 4:4
Little children, you are from God and have overcome them, for he who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.
We give our enemies power over us they shouldn’t have.
The thing is every one of these enemies are real BUT we choose to give them all more power than they deserve or possess — for example, when we have an area where we are tempted, to put ourselves as close to sinning without sinning, is just stupid. It’s like someone saying, I have trouble with gambling, but I just go to the casinos for the shows and the food. Or someone saying, how far can I go sexually with my partner without it being called “sin”; I don’t know, how many parts of your car can you remove and it still be called a car? Dumb question.
Some of us have allowed our past shame or our fears have so much control over us that we are losing before we even start fighting and those are our choices folks. Don’t fall for the lie that you “can’t help it” — there are choices you can make to lessen the power and impact of the enemies.